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BIG SKY NOTEBOOK: A look at the opening day of Big Sky women’s basketball tournament

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For collegiate athletes, traveling to road games can be quite the hassle.

This was the case on Wednesday morning for both the Montana and Montana State women’s basketball teams, who went head-to-head on Thursday in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Tournament at the Betty Engelstad Sioux Center.

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Since there are no direct flights to Grand Forks from Bozeman (home of the Bobcats) or Missoula (home of the Lady Griz), the teams had to take a connecting flight through Denver — where the two teams were scheduled to be on the same flight from Denver to Fargo then bus to Grand Forks.

However, just before departure time, the plane that was supposed to carry the teams was downsized to a smaller plane.

The Bobcats got on the flight, while the Lady Griz waited for the airline to send another plane, causing them to miss their practice time at The Betty.

Montana, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, showed no signs of jetlag during Thursday’s game, beating the No. 6-seeded Bobcats 75-66.

Members of the Lady Griz said the travel issue was annoying, but didn’t let it affect their play. 

“I think traveling in general is just kind of hard,” said Montana guard Kellie Cole. “It kind of also gave us motivation because the Cats got the plane we were supposed to be on. We didn’t get to practice… We had fun as a team, I think the team bonding was better because of it. It didn’t really hamper us in the long run. It was just kind of annoying.”

Lady Griz coach Robin Selvig added: “Things happen over the years that you have no control over. I probably felt after a long day that I couldn’t have played, but I’m not 19 or 20 years old.

“Practice is probably overrated at this time of the year. It’s just one of those things that I don’t make a deal of, because once you start making a deal of it, it might be a deal.”

John Stockton in the house

NBA Hall-of-Famer John Stockton was in attendance for Thursday’s game between Montana and Montana State.

His daughter, Lindsay Stockton, is a sophomore guard for the Bobcats.

The 10-time NBA All-Star watched his son David, who plays for Gonzaga, win the West Coast Conference Championship earlier this week in Las Vegas.

Bobcat sophomore forward Alexa Dawkins also has professional ties. Her dad, Dale Dawkins, was a wide-receiver on the University of Miami’s 1987 national championship team before playing for the New York Jets from 1990-93.

Stockton played just nine minutes on Thursday due to foul trouble, recording two assists. Dawkins scored four points, grabbed six rebounds and added three blocks.

Wanless back

Former UND athletic director and current Sacramento State athletic director Terry Wanless was in attendance for Thursday’s game between Sacramento State and Southern Utah.

Wanless served as UND’s athletic director from 1990-99. He sat next to former UND women’s athletic director Kathy McCann.

Notes

  •  In the 25 years of the women’s Big Sky tournament, Montana has won the championship 16 times with a 39-9 tournament record during that span. The only other current league members to win the tournament are Idaho (3) and Montana State (1).
  •  In the last eight Big Sky tournaments, the host team has won the championship four times.
  •  Sacramento State set the NCAA Division I single season record for 3-pointers made in a loss at Montana on March 6th. Also, the Hornets averaged 12.5 three-pointers made a game, with the all-time record at 10.7.
  •  North Dakota has played Idaho State twice this season, winning once in overtime and the other time by one point. Those teams will play in today’s semifinals.
  •  Idaho State was the only team to make the trek to Grand Forks by bus, driving over 16 hours.
  •  Thursday’s attendance for the tournament was 977. Passes were sold as a package for all three games.
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